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It can be very difficult to describe pain, so that the person listening (your doctor or the Judge) really understands what it is like, especially if he or she has not experienced the type of pain that you are experiencing. Try this questionnaire, known as the McGill Pain Questionnaire, to get your symptoms across. Think about each part of your body that has pain, look at the words listed below and circle the words that describe your pain on an average day (ie: not too tired and taking prescribed medication) but do not circle more than one word in a group. Then when you have that done, go back and circle the three words in groups 1-10 that most convey your pain response. Pick the two words in groups 11-15 that do the same thing. Then pick one word in group 16. Finally, pick 1 word in groups 17-20. At the end you should have seven words that will help describe to your doctor (or the Judge) both the quality of your pain and the intensity of it. Think about how the pain changes (if at all): in hot/cold weather, if you don’t take your painkillers or are late with them, if you are tired, during or after doing certain activities, such as lifting, bending, walking,

Group Words

1 Flickering, Pulsing, Quivering, Throbbing, Beating, Pounding

2 Jumping, Flashing, Shooting

3 Pricking, Boring, Drilling, Stabbing

4 Sharp, Cutting, Lacerating

5 Pinching, Pressing, Gnawing, Cramping, Crushing

6 Tugging, Pulling, Wrenching

7 Hot, Burning, Scalding, Searing

8 Tingling, Itchy, Smarting, Stinging

9 Dull, Sore, Hurting, Aching, Heavy

10 Tender, Taut (tight), Rasping, Splitting

11 Tiring, Exhausting

12 Sickening, Suffocating

13 Fearful, Frightful, Terrifying

14 Punishing, Grueling, Cruel, Vicious, Killing

15 Wretched, Blinding

16 Annoying, Troublesome, Miserable, Intense, Unbearable

17 Spreading, Radiating, Penetrating, Piercing

18 Tight, Numb, Squeezing, Drawing, Tearing

19 Cool, Cold, Freezing

20 Nagging, Nauseating, Agonizing, Dreadful, Torturing

Jo is a Partner specialising in catastrophic personal injury and clinical negligence claims.

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